Handfeeding: It’s all in the Wrists

I expected, now that I am retired, that I would be pulling the violet lovebird chicks in the nest box and attempting my first handfeeding experience. Well, then I talked to an experienced handfeeder, who offered to help. I wavered. After all, these are tiny little lives we’re talking about here. But the pro then realized she wouldn’t be available for several days, and then I didn’t call because there has been so much to do, and now I think the babies are too old to pull. Love birds are particularly difficult to tame, and they will imprint on one person like as not. So when they are rehomed, the tameness could become a thing of the past.

I have three baby cockatiels that just hatched, so they are my next window of opportunity. Also my diluted peach face male and cherry head female lovebirds are nesting on 5 eggs or so. Not sure the girly ever figured out what she has to let the boy do to make fertile eggs, but he’s fathered many the clutch of beautiful babies. So fingers crossed.

There’s lots of help for hand feeding on the net! The Parrot University has step by step instructions, which are very helpful so you can make preparation then check on the next step. https://theparrotuniversity.com/arthandfeeding2

J birds shows how to set up the brooder as well, and notes that you should have some hands-on experience first. This is just to supplement that information. http://www.j-birds.com/handfeed.html Polly doesn’t want a cracker! Love it.

Just so you know why I am hesitant to jump in, even though I have observed several people hand feeding and have taken nearly weaned lovebird babies and weaned them, Here’s what could go wrong. http://www.parrottalk.com/hand-feeding-dangers.htm

The Bird Channel gives you a bunch of tips, so you can see which process makes the most sense for you. http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-breeders/bird-breeding-diet/hand-feed-tips.aspx

Now, if you aren’t lucky enough to belong to a bird club like I do, and haven’t seen people feeding babies right and left, then watch a few videos. Like this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfWF7TQx1Ek See how eager the chicks are to feed? And the older ones like to feed younger babies. So cute! Wonder if the long pink fingernails are required? Could be a deal breaker.

These African gray parrots are so adorable, and easy to feed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_LO7kVQ8hs Some feeders would recommend a fresh tip on the syringe for each chick, to prevent the spread of diseases. But hey, they will be chewing on each other soon enough, so do what feels right to you.

Cockatiels have the oddest body when they are chicks, with a huge belly that keeps them rocked back on their butts. Still adorable. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SPjfGPeZ9Q

Lovebirds are usually a little younger than this clutch when first pulled, but you can see how demanding they can be. Note the mat in the bottom of the container, to help prevent splayed legs.


Hope this is helpful if you have babies to raise. I am not a professional, and I urge you to always talk to someone who has done this for many years before you set yourself up. We can have wonderful experiences with baby birds, but there’s that slight possibility that something could go wrong. Best of luck, thanks for reading, and I’ll be back on Thursday.


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